Bryce Canyon National Park to Jacob Lake, Arizona
Hayduke Trail, Days 24-30
Total Miles: 518.5
We started this section of trail waiting. Waiting for weather to clear and storms to pass. Waiting at an RV campground and a little stealth camping, taking advantage to the pool, hot tub, showers, and all you can eat buffets. The hike hunger has hit so “all you can eat” is a thru hiker dream. It is not in my nature to wait or be still so I was ready to move by Tuesday morning, trail day 26.
Day 26 showed up with cold temps but a great hitch with an English couple in a camper van. They took us to the lodge in Bryce Canyon were we got back on trail. We spent the day hiking almost the entire length of Bryce Canyon on the Under the Rim Trail. We decided to take a side trail to take us back up to the main road in the afternoon so I could see Bryce at the far end of the park from Rainbow and Yovimpa Points. The side trail was our adventure for the day with snowy, slippery slopes. Finally making it to the Rim, we battled the wind and cold until getting to Rainbow Point. I was so cold by this point that I don’t remember much about the view from Rainbow Point. I was ready for my tent and sleeping bag! We found our way thru the snow to Yovimpa Pass as the daylight faded.
The next morning I woke up to frozen water bottles and procrastinated a bit before finally getting out of my sleeping bag. We hiked down Yovimpa Pass, out of Bryce Canyon and down into a hot, sandy wash. What a difference a few miles makes! From complaining about being cold to complaining about being hot . . . I kept reminding myself that I wasn’t out here for comfort and perfect conditions. Just enjoy the moment.
As we dropped from one wash into another, Kasey stopped to take some pictures. I kept going, dropping into a wash and out of site. I realized at one point that I was not in the correct wash, nor was Kasey around. Climbing out of the wash onto a plateau, I saw no sign of Kasey. I backtracked and couldn’t find his footprints. On a normal trail, I wouldn’t stress about this too much but out here, with going cross country and having three different washes to choose from, I got a little nervous. Plus, Kasey didn’t know I was now behind him. I backtracked, now further behind him, and finally found his footprints. Adrenaline kicked in and after an hour or so, with my quickened pace and Kasey realizing he needed to stop, we reconnected. Being out here together requires solid communication and looking out for each other. This was a reminder that we can’t stop being intentional about these things even when we think we have it dialed in.
Day 28 was a big day! We crossed highway 89 in Utah, passed through magnificent slot canyons in Buckskin Gulch and Wire Pass, entered Arizona, and climbed up the Kaibab Plateau! We had read not to enter Buckskin Gulch or Wire Pass if the weather was looking bad and there were storms forecasted for that afternoon. I tend to be about 10 miles ahead of us in my brain all day, constantly thinking about what’s coming up next, what the weather is like, where we should camp, how’s the water report. Some of this probably comes from being a backpacking guide but most of it is my personality. As we walked through these incredible slots that afternoon I found myself thinking about the weather instead of noticing the waves of rock I was walking through, thinking about the what ifs instead of what is. Kasey has the ability to be in the moment and relish it, reminding me to slow down and enjoy where we are. This seems like a constant lesson for me in life and one that I am grateful to Kasey for helping me be aware of out here.
The rest of the day was exciting – entering Arizona, stepping onto the Arizona Trail, climbing up high out of the valley, and getting a different view of the area. The sky continued to grow darker and the wind gusts stronger as we hiked. I finally told Kasey we should stop and get set up before the clouds unleashed. Good timing! We spent the evening in our tents as the wind howled and rain and snow fell.
The next day we had very different scenery from what we have been hiking! Snowy, peaceful ponderosa forests began to form around us as we continued into the Kaibab National Forest. Ponderosas are my favorite tree from growing up in Idaho and, as I walked, I enjoyed memories of summers in the Idaho mountains. We also hit our 500 mile mark this morning!
We ended that afternoon in Jacob Lake, AZ. After a frigid night stealth camping in a nearby day use area, we took a zero on day 30 at the Jacob Lake Inn, home of world famous cookies (but disappointedly not the home of CBS so we could watch the Oregon game).
Today we head into two days of probably snowy and cold weather on the Kaibab Plateau before we drop into the Grand Canyon. I have never been to the Grand Canyon and, not only do I get to see it, I’m going to walk through a majority of it . . . Excitement level is extremely high!
My goal this week is to practice being more present each moment, to be awake to the world around me and what it has to teach me, instead of figuring out how I can control each day.
“Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” -Thoreau
Much love, friends, from the vanilla-scented, ponderosa pine forest of the Kaibab Plateau.